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New business investment visa system proposed for 2023

The Australian government encourages experienced investors and business owners to settle here in Australia.

The system encourages experienced business owners to use their expertise to start or patriciate in already established business.

In relation to investors, it encourages those investors to invest in the Australian economy.

Generally, a provisional visa is granted for 4 years and if the applicant meets certain criteria they can then apply for a permanent visa after 4 years.

The visa types

There are two relevant visas one being the provisional visa and the second a permanent visa.

Business Innovation and Investment (provisional) Visa (Subclass 188)

There are four sub-categories available under this visa

  1. Business Innovation Stream:
  • Net personal and business assets of $1,250,000 AUD and a requirement to operate a new or existing business in Australia
  • Have 3 years of business experience and operate a business with at least $750,000 AUD turnover
  • Pass the points test
  1. Investor Stream:
  • An investment of $2,500,000 AUD in complying investments
  • Have a history of investment expertise
  • Pass the points test
  1. Significant Investor Visa (SIV) Stream:
  • An investment of at least $5,000,000 AUD in a balance portfolio of investments
  • Maintain the investment activity in Australia for 4 years
  1. Entrepreneur Stream
  • Carry out business or entrepreneurial activities in Australia
  • Secure funding of at least $200,000 AUD from an approved funding body

Business Innovation and Investment (permanent) Visa (Subclass 888)

This is the permanent visa that a Subclass 188 visa holder who meets certain criteria can transition into.

What does 2023 hold for investor visas?

The main area of focus will be the Subclass 188 Significant Investor Visa (SIV) programme.

There does not seem to be a need to consider any major changes to the other business visas.

The investment of $5,000,000 AUD is split between venture capital and growth private equity funds (which invest in start-ups and small private companies), approved managed funds (which back Australian Stock Exchange-listed emerging companies) and a “balancing investment” in managed funds.

There are no English-language requirements for the visa and no upper age limits whereas the other visas mentioned above have an age limit of 55 years.

Department of Home Affairs figures as of June 2020, indicate 2,349 SIV visas have been granted since 2012 accounting for $11,700,000,000 AUD being paid into complying investments.

Approximately 85 per cent of visa applicants have been from China.

The SIV programme was introduced in 2012 and has gone through various changes.

Interestingly a 2016 report by the Productivity Commission called for it to be abolished, stating it was “prone to fraud”.

Recently the Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil described it as a way of effectively “buying your way into the country” and that the SIV has a negative lifetime impact on the federal budget and is “actually costing us on average for every person”.

She further stated that, “these are people who are generally coming in at quite a late stage of their life, often at the end of their business career, and coming into Australia to settle down and retire,”

“I think for the skill stream of the migration program, there should be a clear and unequivocal benefit to Australian society and to the Australian economy and budget. If that cannot be demonstrated, then the visa should be abolished.

As a lawyer who has practiced in this area for over 25 years, I have always held the view this visa in its current format is not workable and if the government is simply looking at large scale investment then it should simply say it.

It seems likely the SIV will be scrapped and in my opinion, this would be a good result.

Australia needs a business and investment visa system that encourages high quality business owners and entrepreneurs who will make positive contributions to Australia’s economy.

Likewise, we need an investment visa system that is clear and allows those investors to clearly understand where they will be investing and if it simply about seeking capital investment then it should clearly state that.

The Minister should be congratulated on her initiative to review the system and let’s hope the initiatives lead to a more encouraging and simplified system.

How can FC Lawyers help with your business investment visa options?

At FC Lawyers, our team of experienced accredited specialists have over 25 years’ experience assisting business owners, entrepreneurs, and investors with their visa applications to move to Australia.

Contact us to discuss your needs with investor visas or any other immigration questions you may have.